2237-09-30 - How To Train Your Viper Pilot

Rather than going over mission footage (as intended), Alain and Astraea discuss going after what you really want. Like being a Viper pilot someday.

Date: 2237-09-30

Location: Ready Room

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1435

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Alain's set up quite comfortably in the ready room. He's chosen a desk in the middle, and the screen is showing footage from yesterday's battle -- not his perspective, but difficult to tell at a glance whose it is. He's also partially taken up the desk next to his -- a mug of quickly cooling tea there -- as well as some paper, one of the sheets folded over neatly and held down by the weight of the pen.

It's debatable of the how and why she's gotten into the habit, but it's one that's steadily developing: Astraea Masters reviews guncam footage. And not just when forced. The woman actually fits it into her schedule now. She's becoming more officer-like as time goes by. Those rough edges aren't gone, but they're becoming softened, at the very least. The Scorpian shoulders through the partially-closed hatch; arms full. She's got a binder in hand, pen tucked behind her ear (in her hair, really), a mug in one hand and a sandwich in the other. She's in her duty blues, but they're a bit rumpled by this point. The Raptor pilot's a few strides in, eyes on the screen, before she spots who is actually watching. "Hey," she notes, sliding into the chair at the desk next to Alain's, claiming hat spot in spite of the mug of tea. The space can be shuffled. "Didn't realize someone was already here."

The sound of steps leads Alain to pause the footage, half turning to see who it is. "Nova," he greets, with a brief smile. The tea is shifted to his other side, first, and then with more care, the papers and pen, which he sets in front of him. He's been spending a fair bit of free time in here lately, ever since that Caprican battle, keeping his focus, maybe. There's enough of a lingering look at the Raptor pilot to convey surprise, as he guesses, "Reviewing? Yours, or...?" someone else's?

"Well, usually mine, but-" Astraea sets down her coffee, first, then the sandwich. Finally the binder. It's not a very organized one, by the lack of tabs and how ratty some of the pages are. She's trying, at least. The pen is recovered from her hair. "Been workin' wit' Razor sometimes an' well, he goes through everyone's footage after a mission. Told me how he likes to see his performance from other cameras. I never really thought of that much. So I've been startin' to look for that a bit, though I dunno that I could go through everyone's footage. I'd prob'ly start fallin' asleep halfway through." There's a bit of a grin flashed towards the Gemenese pilot. "But after yesterday- never really flown somethin' like that. Figure it's worth goin' through some at least."

After a moment, Alain seems to remember he has tea -- and reaches for it, sipping while he watches Astraea with her binder, curiosity obvious. "It's useful," he agrees, "Not just for seeing your own performance from other perspectives, but getting a feel for how other pilots fly. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses, too, for when you fly with them, or support them." Lowering his mug, he leans over to peek at the binder's contents, with a grin. "If that's color-coded, too..."

"I imagine it's more useful for Vipers than for us Raptors. Specially since we fly so many others missions, y'know? I go from combat to transport to med-evacs, y'know? It's ever-changin'." Astraea reaches for her own mug, not yet opening the binder. She takes a sip before noticing Alain leaning her way. She looks at him sidelong, returning that grin before setting the coffee aside on the desk opposite. Now they're taking up four, rather than two. So greedy. "Not quite," she admits, a touch sheepishly. "I'm terrible at organization." The binder is flipped open. There are colored pages, but that seems to be the section breaks. The rest are just pages sort of gathered together. "It's just notes. Like this sections mission notes. An' this one's various flight pattern ideas. An' this one's from when Razor an' I began workin' on some response plans an' all on Caprica, in case th' Cylons attacked while we were on a base." There's a frown. "We... didn't have enough time on that one. Guess I should add th' reports an' footage from that to th' Edson files we've got."

"As useful for one-day Viper pilots as Raptor pilots," Alain disagrees, though there's a lightness in his tone for all that. "From what I hear they didn't get very far at the base. I guess we learned from Edson." Still, there's a strained tone to his voice, and he straightens from his inspection of her pages. After a moment, he reaches to resume play on the footage.

"I'm not gonna be a Viper pilot, Jigger," Astraea offers quietly. "Never heard back on any of that an' we've had more Viper pilots transfer in than Raptor. Kinda makes th' point clear, don't it? Plus, Cherry barely talks to me anymore. Ain't worth even talkin' about." Her jaw tightens briefly as she looks down at the pages before she goes back to the 'mission' section of the binder. It's much larger (and messier) than the others. It's blank pages she comes to and starts filling in a header section with the date and region their dogfight the previous day was in. The same general notes her personal AAR would have had. "They didn't get far at Agryos, but they got far 'nough. There were a few buildin's bombed. Plenty of th' city, too. We only did as well as we did 'cause we were already in th' air on a live fire exercise. That's all. If it'd been any other way, we'd've been frakked. It weren't learnin', it was luck. I still plan to put t'gether some response plans to propose to th' brass."

After a beat of silence, Alain says, "You sure aren't, if you're giving up that easily." It's matter of fact, rather than chastising, followed swiftly by, "Cherry isn't the only Captain on the ship, and not the only one who can teach. If you wanted to, you could find someone else. But... do you want to, Nova?" he asks, with a sidelong look. Her latter earns earn in a slight tightening of jaw, as the Gemenese pilot returns attention to the screen in front of him. "Doubt it was luck," he says, briefly, grimacing.

"Whisper wants me where I am," Astraea says, setting down her pen as she leans against her forearms. She looks up to the footage, chewing at her lower lip briefly. "It's her decision, really. I mean, I can train on holoband all I want, but whether or not I get in a Viper cockpit again is somethin' she makes th' call on, Jigger." The Scorpian looks back down to the binger under her hands, tapping at the pages lightly with one hand. "B'fore we left Caprica, she invited me to her home, y'know. For dinner. Got to meet her family an' all."

"So... she said she never wants you in a Viper cockpit?" Alain sounds somewhat dubious about that, a brief frown flickering across his expression. "Being a Viper pilot... it's half skill, half attitude. If you want it, Whisper'll notice." He runs a hand down his shirt, smoothing out some invisible wrinkle before he exhales. "Do you want it?" He looks briefly surprised at her latter words. "I didn't know."

"Well, I think it's more..." Astraea runs her tongue over her lower lip, "we don't have enough Raptor pilots an' she likes havin' me where I am right now." She looks back to her binder, fussing with the corner of the pages. "I am fifth on th' kill board. Only four behind you, even. I do want it, but I think everyone prefers I stay where I'm at." She does look over to him, giving another small nod. "No one knows," she offers up quietly. "Didn't think it was th' sorta thing I should spread around, y'know? Th' Major invitin' me into her home an' all. She, uh, wants me to organize an' outin' for th' wing on our next leave. Somethin' a bit less likely to end in a brawl, I s'ppose."

"Right now doesn't sound like never," Alain observes with a brief smile, though that flickers and fades when she mentions the kill board, glance flickering towards it. "That means very little, you realize. For a while, I thought it did. But these days, I'd rather a thousand more kills where we work together to take down the heavies tearing apart our ranks, than five more scores there," he flickers fingers, dismissively, towards the board. "There were plenty more, higher than either of us, up there, once." He gives a brief tip of head at her mention of an outing, but doesn't offer any suggestions, perhaps unsurprisingly.

"You know I have trouble thinking of th' future. Especially right now. I mean... We've lost Farmboy an' there's no word right now on Hawk, either." She's not even able to use the nickname they've adopted for the Virgan. "Without an Academy, trainin' for Vipers... by myself on holoband? In my free time? Jigger, it'd take years. Th' war would prob'ly be over by th' time I'd scratched th' surface. An' I don' wanna go 'round beggin' other Captains to train me. Hawk might've, but-" She shrugs, looking to her binder again, scratching at an errant mark on the page. "I should focus on my strengths."

Alain's expression tightens moreso at that reminder. It lingers with a tension in his voice as he says tersely, "It's not begging. It's taking what you want. If you want to be a Viper pilot, then work for it. Find someone. If you want excuses, yeah, you'll stay as a Raptor pilot -- nothing wrong with that. But you have to make the decision, rather than focusing on how hard it might be." It's definitely unusual, the briskness with which he says the words, but there's also a determined timbre underneath the tense tones, too.

Tilting her head slightly, Astraea leans a bit more on the desk; drawing an elbow up and pushing her fingers into her hair as she turns to study Alain. There's a slight furrow of her brow as she takes in this rather more intense side of him. "I'm tryin' not to be so..." She exhales slowly, "not angry, mebbe, but... intense? I feel, so much, all th' time an' certain things have made it difficult lately. To focus. To keep on track." She looks, briefly, to the screen. "We've got a war to win, yeh? An' if th' brass thinks th' way for me to do that is to be at th' controls of a Raptor..." She sighs and sits up, reaching for her coffee. "I'm learnin' that what I don't get what I want, Jigger."

The Gemenese pilot keeps his gaze on the screen, though one could suspect he's not paying it a huge amount of focus at this point. "No one really gets what they want, all the time. But it's not a reason to stop trying, Nova." It takes a moment more, of silence, before Alain glances sidelong at Astraea. "That's... that sounds good," of her efforts to focus.

"I dunno how..." Astraea takes a slow breath, picking up her pen. She turns it in her fingers. "Hawk was teachin' me. How to control my emotions an' shut 'em off." She frowns at the writing utensil. "Been tryin' to practice, but it's even harder, bein' worried like I am. I know once I get th' hang of it, I'll be even better at my job. An' who knows, mebbe I'll be a better candidate to transition into Vipers." She smirks, briefly, straightening to jot a few things onto the page. "Not that I'll care at that point, yeah?"

Alain's brow furrows briefly. "Shut them off--?" he exhales sharply, clearly ill-at-ease with the idea. "Well, whatever works for you, Nova," he adds, slowly. "Even if we haven't heard anything yet, sometimes that's a good thing. The recon team would've scouted out his bird by now, so it has to mean he made it out under his own power." At least that's the theory he's going with -- the optimistic one.

Astraea notices that discomfort. She looks down, somewhat ashamed. "Hawk doesn't think I should use it all th' time either," she admits, quietly. "But it works for flyin'. You've been with me some of th' last fights. Not a scratch on my bird. You know how rare that is. Even with how little I've learned so far, it's workin'. I'm a better pilot already." She fidgets, somewhat, in her seat. "An' if it can help me not be so miserable th' rest of th' time... why not?"

"You don't have to justify it to me. It's your... approach," Alain says, all too carefully. "Everyone develops their own ways of coping. Some work, some don't. Just... don't feel like you have to stick with it, if it doesn't end up working long term." He exhales, shuts off the screen, and reaches for his tea, nose wrinkling when he realizes it's cold, before he lowers it.

"I guess." Astraea hasn't touched her sandwich and barely touched her own coffee, but she hasn't been here as long. It's likely still warm. She glances over at Alain. "If I do... y'know, go back to practicing Vipers with th' holobands, would you be willin' to work with me sometimes?" She does reach for her own drink, opting to just wrap her hands around it for the moment. "I know y'aren't a trainer or anythin', but someone to fly trainin' scenarios wit' me would be good. You've got th' experience an' I trust yer feedback either way."

"Of course," Alain replies, without a moment of hesitation. "I'd be happy to." He exhales, collecting his papers and carefully tucking them under his arm, then his cup. "I should go get ready for Alert. We'll talk later, okay?" He gives Astraea a brief smile, as he stands to leave.


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